We recently welcomed Dean Gonsowski to the Relativity team. Dean’s a former litigator, general counsel, and AGC with more than 20 years’ tenure in litigation, e-discovery, and information governance. We’re excited to have his experience and expertise on the team as he joins us in the role of VP of business development.
Earlier this week, I interviewed Dean about his past experiences, trends he’s seen in the industry, and what he’s most looking forward to in his new role. I also managed to sneak in a question about saltwater fly fishing.
Nick: Tell us about your background and e-discovery experience.
Dean: I am a recovering attorney by trade and back in the day I practiced both as litigator and in-house counsel. In 2000, I started a computer forensics company with a friend of mine, John Loveland, and we serendipitously got into the e-discovery business. More recently, I was with Clearwell Systems as an early member of the executive team. We sold to Symantec in 2011 in one of the biggest e-discovery acquisitions at the time. Then, after a year or so with Symantec, I went to Recommind to help in their efforts to bring an information governance solution to market.
I do a lot of work on the thought leadership side; I’m currently a member of the Sedona Conference Working Group on Electronic Document Retention/Production (WG1), as well as an advisor to the LTPI and on the steering committee of the EDI Leadership Summit.
What changes have you seen in the industry over the years?
There have been several watershed moments over the last 15 years. The e-discovery amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 2006 really brought e-discovery to the forefront for a lot of people. Many wanted to turn it into a business process, and corporations who were heavily regulated or litigious thought more about taking charge of the process. When people started treating e-discovery as a business process rather than a reactive, hair-on-fire panic attack, we saw a lot of improvement in the space. Legal started working with IT and information security, the EDRM continued to evolve, and early case assessment as a solution started to mature.
Today, we’re seeing the start of the information governance era. It’s talked about a lot, and it’s beginning to get more traction, especially as people are beginning to actually understand it and realize not only the risk mitigation aspects, but the value creation elements.
People are also beginning to understand they can do a lot of amazing things with their existing e-discovery tools. They’re looking for new ways to take advantage of e-discovery software in non-traditional use cases. Both of these trends—IG and employing tools in innovative ways—are nascent, and very exciting.
What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in this new role?
My number one goal is to better understand the diverse needs of the market and ultimately help Relativity expand the existing Relativity community. I’ll investigate and dive into the market and market adjacencies to identify challenges, define products, and help us better serve those needs that are converging with traditional e-discovery.
As Relativity evolves, I think we have an opportunity, and probably an obligation, to drive innovation by understanding and evangelizing customer requirements, anticipating evolving needs, and identifying nascent trends. I think what’s happened with Relativity Fest is a good example. It started as a user conference, but over time it’s become more impactful and has educated and driven the industry in increasingly innovative directions. This is what I’m most excited about.
What do you think the future of the e-discovery market will look like?
I think we’re getting to a point where the technology—the software used to carry out e-discovery—is getting better and more comprehensive. This allows companies to adopt end-to-end platforms instead of stitching together point solutions, which in turn drives efficiencies for case teams, corporate legal departments, and our partners. It means that attorneys, consultants, and the folks doing the legal work and investigations can spend more time providing high-value services and tackling problems in interesting ways, as opposed to just getting their data through each stage of the EDRM. That’s what I think the market looks like as it continues to consolidate, mature, and evolve.
As an industry we’ve got to become even more proactive. This will allow companies to start solving broader challenges like information governance, and use the skills we’ve acquired in the management of unstructured data to help departments outside of legal. Software companies like ours have to continue innovating and empowering the ecosystem to mature.
I look forward to the challenge.
We both like saltwater fly fishing. Indulge me. What’s your favorite saltwater quarry on the fly, and what’s your favorite rod to cast in big salt?
How much time do you have? No really, this is one of my great passions (or vices depending on my wife’s point of view). I recently went down to the East Cape of Baja to tackle some large saltwater fish on the fly. I’d previously been down there and got spooled by a “grande” Roosterfish (probably 50 pounds)—which kept me coming back for another shot at this elusive fish. This last trip, I cast a stout 10 weight rod (a Redington Predator) using gym-sock sized flies to roosters, jacks, and dorado. In the end, I landed a 40-pound dorado, which is now a personal best. I’ve got photos if you’re interested.
I can’t wait to go back. Maybe a Relativity offsite?
Nick Robertson joined Relativity in 2007 and serves as chief operating officer of Relativity. He leads the customer group, where he works closely with marketing, sales, and customer support and success to deliver an exceptional experience for the global Relativity community.